Friday, July 18, 2008

1 in 5 UK MPs mentally ill: Survey

1 in 5 UK MPs mentally ill: Survey
16 Jul 2008, 1320 hrs IST,PTI

LONDON: One in five parliamentarians in Britain suffers from mental illness caused by the stress of their public lives, a confidential survey of MPs and peers has found.

Those questioned said they feared disclosing their struggles because of stigma and discrimination.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health questionnaire was completed by 94 parliamentarians, 100 lords and 151 parliamentary staff.

According to the survey, more than a quarter had a mental health issue, while 86 per cent of MPs said their job was stressful.

The group's report is critical of the law forcing MPs to give up their seat for life if they are sectioned under the Mental Health Act for six months.

Liberal Democrat parliamentarian Mark Oaten said he was treated with anti-depressants after his private life was exposed in the press.

"The truth is many politicians, myself included, have found the job enormously stressful," he told The Independent .

"I was regularly taking Prozac." He said he had now "got back his life" and was looking for other career opportunities after the next election.

One of those serving MPs surveyed, speaking told the paper: "I would love as an established MP to talk openly of the serious depressive illness I endured long before I became or even thought of being a MP".

Labour MP Howard Stoate said he had advised MPs to seek help. "A lot of people underestimate how much pressure their MPs are under but it is no more stressful than some other jobs," he said.

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